Home Bookend - Where reading meets review Mr. Vedantham: Part 2 – R. Mahadevan

Mr. Vedantham: Part 2 – R. Mahadevan

by Venky

(Image Credit: Alliance Publishers)

With more twists and turns than one can expect from a dance floor on prom night even, the second and final installment of Mr. Vedantham is a tribute to one of the most perceptive and talented writers in Tamil. The late R. Mahadevan or ‘Devan’ in short, manages a complex topic revolving around opposing spectrums of human pettiness and altruism, with an ease that is frighteningly exemplary! The ephemerality of fleeting life is brought to bear with a spare precision that is informed by reflection and realisation. Devan also blends in exquisite doses of humour that offer readers respite from otherwise being buffeted by some intense passages.

The gullible Vedantham is divested of a significant amount of his savings by the fly-by-night operator duo of Venkat & Ram. Just when the fact of being swindled hits home like a hammer, the unfortunate Vedantham is forced to rush back home to Thoothukudi from Chennai, to tend to his ailing aunt. Her daughter, and Vendan ham’s potential consort in future, Chellam us rendered helpless and hapless without Vedantham’ s able support. With his last remaining funds dangerously getting dried up, Vedantham receives a welcome support from a most unlikely source. Reporter V.N. Singham, an acquaintance of barely a few days, offers Vedantham an opportunity to accompany a famous persona, Mr. Shastry to Calcutta. Shastry is in the process of authoring a book and he is in dire need of an assistant who can also double up as an able secretary.

However, much to the horror and chagrin of Vedantham, Shastry turns out to be the devil incarnate. An obnoxious eccentric, the geriatric expects Vedantham to pay heed to his calls at every possible odd hour irrespective of whether its day or night. Exacerbating this unusual behaviour is a revolting way with words. Humiliating Vedantham by resorting to degradations and scorn, Shastry succeeds in driving Vedantham out of Calcutta itself back to Chennai. A confused and bedraggled Vedantham is left to rue the very purpose of life when what is the biggest disaster, befalls him.

When in Calcutta, Vedantham’ s primary pre-occupation lies in getting over every single hour, let alone every single day unscathed from the fury of Shastry. This leads to Vedantham failing to intimate the details of his new dwelling to Chellam and her aunt. Racked by fear and doubt and facing a peculiar obstacle of their own in Thoothukudi, the mother and daughter duo are forced to temporarily relocate to a small village called Keevalur. Now both Vedantham and Chellam have no perceivable clue about each other’s whereabouts. To complete the vicious circle of fate, Vedantham’ s altruistic angel and repeated benefactor, Shri Swamy is out of Chennai with no trace of his whereabouts.

Singham again comes to Vedantham’ s aid and finds him a job with an independent and modest print media proprietor named Rathnaswamy. However, when, at the unrelenting goading of Singham, Vedantham submits a short story – as part of a writing competition – organised by a more reputable publication called “Kunjalam,” and wins the first prize and a cash award of Rs.1000, an enraged Rathnaswamy fires Vedantham from the job without even batting an eyelid! Poor Vedantham now stops counting the whammies that are whacking him as if apocalypse is just a few days away!

Can Vedantham succeed in tracing the whereabouts of his aunt and his fiancé? How does he manage to live in the teeming metropolis of Chennai with a meagre bit of his entire life’s savings remaining? What perceivable motive does Mr. V.N. Singham have in lending unsolicited assistance to Vedantham as the latter tries to negotiate the remorseless and unforgiving obstacles that life takes unbridled joy in repeatedly hurling at him? Will the egregious and philanthropic Swamy return once again as the ultimate saviour to lend a new lease of life to Vedantham?

While Volume 1 tended to veer towards blight and bane, Volume 2, even though beginning on a pessimistic footing race through with unexpected twists and extraordinary turns. The pace is consistent and the plot flawless. The final four to five Chapters make for an absolute exercise in excelsis! The coalescing of disparate events, characters, and locations to hurtle towards a crescendoing climax leaves reader gasping for breath! The triumphs, trials, travails and tribulations of Vedantham are in an alternating fashion inspiring as well incredulous. More than anything they make for an object lesson in leading life the way in which it needs to be lead.

Mr. Vedantham – Volume 2 – a roaring achievement!

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